As the Taliban continues to outlaw music and culture in Afghanistan, some of the country’s biggest acts will perform in West London this June. Under the Taliban’s dictatorship art, performance and music are banned. In defiance, the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (ACAA) is bringing together popular Afghan performers, forced to live in exile, for a musical celebration at Cranford Community College in Hounslow, TW5 9PD on Sunday, 23rd June (10am-8pm).

The award-winning singer-songwriter Ghezaal Enayat will headline. Born in Kabul, she rose to fame with her hit ‘Dil-e-Beqarar’ but, forced to flee her homeland, she now lives in Canada. Further performers include singers Hashmat Ehsanmand, Hamid Erfan and Timor Shaidaie, and dance duo Anja Samim. All now live in exile. The festival is hosted by US based Afghan journalist, Nazira Karimi.

It is almost three years since the Taliban’s take over and crack down,
leading to 8 million people fleeing the country and this year’s festival, which is themed ‘Our Home’, will be a triumphant celebration of creativity and resilience. Running for its fifth year, this annual ACAA event now receives funding from the UK Arts Council. It is a unique chance to see popular Afghan performers, enjoy poetry by children and women’s groups and sample food and crafts from across the globe. Politicians and local councillors will speak during the day and there will be activities for children. With an estimated

attendance of over 5,000 people, the family friendly festival is expected to be one of the largest cultural gatherings of Afghan people in the world.

Speaking ahead of the festival, Ghezaal Enayat said: “I can’t wait to be in London and to perform in front of the crowds at the ACAA Refugee Week Festival. As a diaspora we know what it means to suffer and this event is an opportunity to celebrate the life we have and the people of our beautiful nation. Singing and performance are integral to the culture of Afghanistan. It is always a joy to be part of this sort of event, it’s a moment to remind people how beautiful a free Afghanistan will be.”.

Founder and Director of the ACAA, Nooralhaq Nasimi MBE, said: “We are so excited to be hosting our fifth festival to celebrate our beautiful nation and its people. I am grateful to the performers for coming all the way to London to be part of our event. As the American song says, ‘Wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home’, and the people of Afghanistan have had to live that involuntary reality for too long. This summer we will come together to celebrate our culture in defiance of the oppressive tyrants who have, for now, kicked us out of the place of our birth.”

Tickets: £10 adult (online) £15 (on the day), £5 child aged 5-16.